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Play Instant Chess!

Play Instant Chess, because all the cool kids do it. Okay, I know that as a big advocate for doing work at work and play NOT at work, this may seem . . . inappropriate. But hang with me.

My cousin, at the tender age of 8, was some grand whizzy, super-fly something or other in the Chess World. Besting the best in Massachusettes and elsewhere he had good “game” as some might say. I however was not included in the family chess-learning activities and have been sore about it ever since.

Well, Chess is an excellent strategy game AND it really does show how another person processes information. What I am finding as I study former employees, future employees and my compatriots is that a quick game of chess can give a good barometer of my competitor’s capabilities off the chess board. It has been remarkably accurate with predicting say a certain someone’s tendancy to give up or another’s procrastination and yet another’s devious genius.

Best of all, if the player has some experience you will immediately learn if they prefer to be defensive or offensive. Who do you want in accounting? Probably a defensive. Who do you want in sales? Probably an offensive.

The best part is, you really do not need to be a great player to see this unfold. I recommend adding a quick chess game to hiring practices. People reveal more about themselves to the keen observer than they may realize.

So play Instant Chess on Miss Mentor and get your game on folks!

Cubicle Etiquette – Annoyingly loud

So the question FREQUENTLY comes up, “Is my cubicle mate trying to drive me crazy, or is it just me?”

Okay, so actually most people ask that more like this: “My cubicle neighbor is such an (insert explitive here). He cranks his music up and I can’t concetrate. Should I contact Human Resources?”

WHOA! NO, do not start by contacting HR. First that makes you look like you can’t handle your own business. Second, your fellow cube dweller is 90% of the time simply oblivious. By assuming the worst, you are mentally gearing up for battle. Fine, play world of warcraft at home, but keep your latent hostilities OUT of the office my friend.

I’m not going into the biology of why we tend to assume the worst – survival instincts kicking in, etc. – but suffice to say, you are not being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, so put down that spear. You need to get a good visual to aid you in your cubicle etiquette lessons.

Office Etiquette – Office Conversations

So what happens when you mix old fashioned etiquette rules and modern office? Hopefully a more civilized workplace. If you wonder what appropriate an office conversation is, then consider reading the piece on office conversations. Part late nineteenth century etiquette guidelines and lots of common sense, Miss Mentor pulls some gems from the past and wonders if anyone today would care to try them out a second time – minus the servants.

Job Interview Etiquette – Part 3 of 3

Later that day – before you forget who you met and what you discussed, WRITE THANK YOU NOTES! Make them personal. If you had more than 5 words with someone, you want them to remember you AND to ADVOCATE for you. Demonstrating good job interview etiquette opens doors.

Yes, a hand written note is still the best idea. What? Your handwriting looks like chicken scratch. . . . hmmm, I hear ya. Mine does too. But when it comes to writing a note, nothing replaces the charm of a handwritten note. So slow it down and do your best to channel your handwriting instructor from days of yore. ummmm, Mrs. Easterling, mmmmmm.

Okay, so you’ve broken both wrists in a terrible football tailgating accident (true story!). Well then, use your word processor to crank out the notes. They will be doubly impressed with your good job interview etiquette.

Now what? Well, give the postal service a few days to deliver your notes (7-10 days). Then follow up with a BRIEF phone call to your original contact unless you’ve been asked to follow up with someone else. If you have been specifically told, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” then back off buddy, no phone calls. And when I say brief . . . no kidding, keep it to 7 minutes or less, UNLESS they reject you and are willing to give you feedback – then soak it in so you can improve.

What if it has been 3-4 weeks with no further word? Well, I’m afraid them’s the breaks kid. The firm may have moved on without the kindness of letting you know (bastards!) or they may be stringing you along. It is also possible they just have not made up their minds and too much is going on with running the business to make a decision right now. Be patient. Good job interview etiquette means being smooth, not panicy.

If it has been more than 2 weeks since last communications AND you were NOT given a specific time line for a decision, ONLY then should you call your point of contact again to follow up. If he/she does not return your call within 3 days, let it be. It’s like that crush in high school who spoke to you once but then ignored you the rest of the year…. Move on, move on.

Need specific advice on Job Interview Etiquette? Contact us and we may choose your question for the Q&A grab bag in the Essential Life E-zine! Note the level of urgency in your request – we try to please!

Job Interview Etiquette – Part 2 of 3

EXECUTE the plan.

Job Interview Etiquette Top 10:
1. Be on time. Give yourself enough time to get there and plan for traffic or elephants falling from the sky – it happened once in Miami….

2. When you arrive at the place for your interview, be ready for the interview. Let me repeat that, BE READY FOR THE INTERVIEW. This is NOT the time to take a call from someone else. This is NOT the time to check your Blackberry. This is NOT the time to look at material for your next interview. Be in the moment with THIS interview. Give it 100%.

3. Always act like a guest.Treat those who greet you courteously, not curtly. In some organizations the receptionist contributes remarks on your candidacy…. You’ve been warned.

Good job interview etiquette means act like a guest but not a sycophant. Don’t bring the brownies your mom baked until the third round of interviews. Got it? Good.

4. Display good personal hygiene. Teeth brushed, hair combed, clean hands? You sassy beast. Well . . . get to it!

5. Don’t open doors, enter rooms or otherwise take command unless/until invited to do so. If you are currently working for a competitor there will be things you do not need to see. Respect the wishes of your potential employer. Unless you’re really just job-hunting as a ploy to check out your competitor . . .

6. DO NOT use job-hunting as a ploy to sneak in all spy-like for photos of top secret documents from your shoe camera unless your name is Bond, James Bond. The world is not enough to protect you from the wrath that will ensue. While you only live twice, your professional circle is TOO small for you to try this tactic more than once. Dr. NO!

7. Check your ego at the door. Make the recruiter, human resource contact aware before the interview(s) start if you have a potential emergency brewing (i.e wife is expecting any minute, DISASTEROUS crisis at current job). Then it will be acceptable to check your phone BETWEEN (never during) interview sessions.

8. KEEP YOUR COMMITMENTS! The person interviewing you may have traveled long and far just to meet with you, particularly if you are interviewing for a top spot. Unless you are in the hospital incapacitated, GET THEE to the Interview!

If you no longer wish to interview, give at least 24 hours notice. If that is not possible, let your interviewer know in person. The world is perilously small, your behavior will be remembered and shared, good and bad, particularly bad….

9.Watch your language! Even if you are a guy interviewing to be a trader for Big Bank X, watch your language. Expletives though used in some work environments are NOT appropriate DURING the interview. You may get away with it at the drink fest that night, but NEVER in the office.

Seriously. Expletives = BAD job interview etiquette.

Miss Mentor: “I’ve been in the construction world and the finance world and both rely on expletives to get through the day, but if a candidate used one in an interview – game over. “

10. Remember, they said yes to an interview with you. Don’t make them feel like fools for doing so. Let your best side shine! Show them you can make their bottom line sing. Be the rockstar you are!